Katie James’ Beach-Inspired Morning Rituals

Easy, breezy Caribbean life.

By Jenn Rose Smith
Designer Katie James with her children on the beach in Tulum

I think our whole team is in agreement when I say byJAMES is one of those brands that had us a first sight. It’s everything we love at Camille Styles: simple, timeless, and beachy with just the right dose of modernity. That’s why it was such a delight to spend the day with style director Katie James, and discover she’s living the life to match her summery designs.

The designer moved from Dallas to Mexico (with family in tow), and now calls the sunny beaches of Tulum home. She loves the people, food, and creative freedom she’s found in the tiny town known for big style. What she loves most, though, is sharing the experience with her children Luca and Olivia. After spending the day with them on the beach I can’t blame her — it’s pretty idyllic.

They’re playing in the ocean, finding shells, eating ceviche with their bare hands, all while we sip mezcal margaritas at Coqui Coqui. What’s not to love?

Join me as I discover that mornings in Tulum are anything but typical.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

As Kristin Lee Cole said… Kiss my babies and enjoy a cup of coffee. Two things I can not function without.

What do you love about living in Tulum?

Aside from it being one of the most beautiful and charming beach destinations in the world, it offers such a unique lifestyle. Tulum draws a very specific person and there is a common denominator between the locals here, we all are relaxed, laid back yet driven and creative. We all share a passion for travel and style while having business in Tulum.

While I love being able to call Tulum my home now, I think my favorite aspect is watching my kids grow up here. They’ve been exposed to a completely different environment than what I experienced in my child hood and seeing them run on the beaches, swim with sea turtles, learn to sail and speak a second language is something I will never take for granted! I hope they don’t either…

How long does your morning routine take from start to finish?

6:30-9:30. My kids wake me up around 6:30 and are ready for their “cereals” and I spend the whole morning with them until I leave Olivia at school at 9, which is when I get my day started.

What’s your favorite getting-ready soundtrack?

I love a chill jam. From Norah Jones (the Mexican version, Carla Morrison), a mix of ‘women of jazz’ on youtube, Neil Young, Mazy Star…

Finish this sentence: I never leave the house without                       .

My phone, Carmex, car keys and usually my kids.

Do you workout in the morning?

No. Unless you consider having two kids a workout?

What do you eat for breakfast?

Either freshly made soy chorizo tacos, avocado toast, or a grapefruit and coffee.

Daily uniform?

A byJAMES swimsuit and a coverup from one of the local boutiques here.

Do you stick to the same hair and makeup routine every day, or do you like to experiment?

I stick to the same thing, but I wish I experimented more.

What’s your worst morning habit?

Checking my phone before I get out of bed.

Do you have a signature scent?

Tom Ford, black orchid. So good and musky.

If you could only put on one item of makeup, what would it be?

Mascara. Anything else would look unfinished, I think.

Do you shower in the morning or at night?

Mostly in the morning because it offers a fresh start to my day.

Favorite product for the shower?

Unfortunately we don’t have a great range of beauty products here in this part of Mexico, however I’m all for a good scrub with brown sugar and coconut oil which I make at home.

pictured: sandals and swimsuit from byJAMES

Tell us about some of your favorite spots in Tulum for shopping: 

Josa boutique (you can find byJAMES there, along with a beautiful selection of kaftans), Caravana, Coqui Coqui boutique, KM 33, La Troupe, Boutique at Sanará hotel.

And for dining?

Do not miss Hartwood! Casa Banana, Gitano, The Real Coconut Cafe at Sanará, Arca, Mezzanine.

The thing you miss the most about living in the US:

Organization and systems.

The designer sitting outside at one of her favorite spots, Coqui Coqui.

One word to describe your mornings: